By Sylvia Stinson-Perez
The Older Individuals who are Blind Technical Assistance Center (OIB-TAC) is focused on agencies promoting independence, community involvement, and the well-being of older individuals who are blind. It is a part of the National Research & Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC).
The OIB-TAC provides a variety of training and technical assistance activities to programs addressing the areas of community outreach, best practices in the provision and delivery of services, program performance, and financial and management practices. Our goal is to ensure that our professionals have the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to provide you the best services as you learn to cope with and adjust to life with vision loss.
The OIB-TAC Community of Practice features short courses, recorded webinars, live forums, and many useful tips and documents from support group manuals to tips for self-advocacy. Recently a Remote Training Resources page was added to help address the challenges of service providers during the pandemic.
Although our primary audience is professionals who work with individuals 55 and over with visual impairments, our primary stakeholder is you, the person who is aging with vision impairment! You are also welcome to utilize our resources. Please let us know how we can better assist you as you seek to live an independent and fulfilling life with a visual impairment.
We also gather information on nationally promising practices. These may help you more effectively engage in the vision rehabilitation process yourself. Help your counselor or rehabilitation teacher understand your needs. If you are having difficulty getting groceries, making mistakes with medications, or are tripping, falling or running into things because of your vision loss, contact your local agency for the blind.
Once you are receiving services or training, it is essential that you communicate your needs, identify the best way for you to get assistance, and advocate for yourself. Assist your counselor or rehabilitation teacher by telling them what technology you are comfortable with, what support you have in place, and any challenges you face, such as difficulty reading print or hearing on the phone. You will find them to be caring and adaptable. Their goal is to help you be as independent as you can be.
We know that things will continue to look very different in the near future, and possibly for a long time to come. Still, we feel confident that if we all work together, we will figure out how to ensure that all of us, including me, will continue to face the challenges of vision loss with grace and dignity – and a healthy dose of creativity!